Are Jewish Community Centers the New Battleground Over Israel's Legitimacy?

Right-wingers are calling for donations to be withheld from organizations that hold arts events which are, in their view, not nationalist enough.

Jewish Community Centers, known for their fitness facilities and child care services, are increasingly becoming the target of protesters taking issue with the artistic programs they offer.

In Washington, a new grassroots organization is calling on the local federation to adopt guidelines that will withhold funding from the JCC if the center’s theater puts on plays that “denigrate Israel and undermine its legitimacy.” In New York City, a group called JCCWatch is taking aim at the JCC in Manhattan for partnering with such groups as the New Israel Fund, B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch in supporting the Other Israel Film Festival.

nif - Alon Ron - July 16 2010
Protest against the New Israel Fund, Tel Aviv, July 16, 2010.Alon Ron

In the middle of this fight stand the Jewish federations, the community’s philanthropic backbone, torn between their wish to maintain the artistic freedom of the community’s beneficiary agencies and their need to satisfy angry donors who control the purse strings.

Read the rest of this article at The Forward.